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Meadowood HOW


By Lauren Wells

Rutherford County Co-Op sponsored a Horse Owner’s Workshop (HOW) meeting at Meadowood Farm in Murfreesboro, TN on March 14th, with about 55 people attending. Speakers included Purina Animal Nutrition Equine Specialist Rusty Bane, Lauren Wells from Purina Animal Nutrition and Rutherford Farmer’s Co-Op, and Dr. Mike Caruso, Associate Surgeon at Tennessee Equine Hospital.

Rusty Bane spoke about “What is Your Horse Nutrition IQ?” and Wells spoke about Body Condition Scoring as an Effective Management Tool, using two Tennessee Walking Horse geldings as demonstration horses. Dinner was provided prior to the presentations.

Some general comments about Body Condition Scoring:

The body condition scoring system was developed by Henneke and others at Texas A&M University in 1983 as a way to objectively evaluate a horse’s body condition, or level of fat cover. The system is based numerically from 1-9, 1 being extremely emaciated and 9 being extremely obese. The ideal range of body condition score is 5-6.

The body condition scoring system is very important because it allows us to determine if a horse is receiving enough calories in the diet to meet his energy requirements. It is important to put our hands on the horses to actually determine their fat cover, especially during the winter months when a thick hair coat may influence the accuracy of the score. We want to feel 6 areas on the horse to determine their body condition score: over the crest of the neck, over the withers, along the back, the top of the tail head, behind the shoulder, and over the ribcage.

Although certain breeds have differing levels of fat deposition, the body condition scoring system is an effective management tool for all horses, regardless of breed, gender, or discipline. We recommend body condition scoring your horse on a regular basis, especially going into show season or the winter months when their energy requirements will be elevated.

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